Racing: Bimsey to defy Purist for punters

YORK EBOR MEETING: A front-runner quick from the draw can hold off last year's winning team in the week's big handicap
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There are many delights to take in the big August meeting at York, not the least of them the fact that, while there may be half a dozen past and future Classic winners racing on the Knavesmire this week, the event which will pack the terraces like no other is a handicap. The snobs may not like it, but at its heart, this is a meeting for the punters.

And punt they will shortly after three o'clock today, in sums large enough to ensure a bleak autumn for the local economy if an outsider leads the field home in the race which gives the entire week its name. Twenty-two runners will go to post for the richest Flat handicap anywhere in Europe, and the winner will earn every penny of the pounds 100,000 first prize.

And if it is a gruelling race for the runners, it is little better for the backers attempting to sort it out. Just one clear favourite has obliged them in the last 14 years, and while Puce is close behind him in the ante- post betting, the unwelcome task of ending that dismal run will probably fall to Media Star this afternoon.

John Gosden's runner could hardly be better named, given that both the trainer and his jockey, Frankie Dettori, are among the most amenable interviewees on the turf. After Dettori's excellent start to the meeting, his supporters will be doubly encouraged to note that the removal of Kutta from the top of the weights should mean that Dettori will not put up any overweight on the favourite.

While the betting fates can give, so can they take away, and any advantage conferred on Media Star by the rising weights is more than cancelled out by his high draw. There are those who do not believe that the draw can influence a 14-furlong race, but with the exception of Sanmartino two years ago, a single-figure stall has been all but a prerequisite for success in the last decade, a trend which is too pronounced to be coincidence.

And it is not just Media Star who must overcome a wide starting position. Both Puce and Mohawk River, the next two names in most bookies' lists, are similarly inconvenienced, a particular irritation in the case of the former since she would otherwise have been a confident selection to reverse recent Goodwood form with Media Star. The only sensible option, though, is to play the percentages and stick to the low numbers, where the choice lies between Bimsey and Purist.

Purist represents last year's winning combination of Michael Stoute and Fergal Lynch, but comes into the race with just a maiden to his credit, and may lack the necessary experience. BIMSEY (next best 3.10), by contrast, is a familiar figure, particularly to National Hunt enthusiasts, and while he has not reproduced his excellent hurdling form on the Flat so far this year, he has not yet been allowed to make the running, as he does so successfully over the sticks.

You could wish to have no sharper trainer on your side in a big handicap than Reg Akehurst, and from his low draw, Bimsey can seize the initiative.

Henry Cecil's Ebor meeting did not begin as planned yesterday with Bosra Sham finishing last, but it is difficult to see a similar mishap befalling Reams Of Verse (2.35), the Oaks winner, in the Yorkshire Oaks. Many will anticipate a double for Cecil, who saddles Bold Fact in the Gimcrack Stakes, and the July Stakes winner holds every chance if he can run in a straight line from his stands' rail stall. He is not a straightforward ride, though, and Social Charter (3.45), a cosy winner at Salisbury last week, should be the one to benefit.

A better chance of making money comes with Amyas (next best 2.05), who did not receive the best of rides from Michael Hills last time. He is not one to make the same mistake twice.

n The runners in the third race at Folkestone yesterday had a narrow escape when a car came on the track in front of them during the race. A course attendant removed some running rail to allow the car to drive off the course just in time.

Yesterday's results, page 22